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Raveling Remains Optimistic USC Can Reach First Division

February 25, 1988|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

USC Coach George Raveling has had to redefine his team's goals as the basketball season has progressed.

Raveling had high expectations at the outset of the season, saying that several newcomers could lift the Trojans into the upper division of the Pacific 10 Conference.

But USC has struggled most of the season as its 6-17 record (4-10 in the Pac-10) indicates. Now time is running out on the Trojans, but Raveling remains optimistic.

"Our goal is to win the last four games of the regular season and, if we do that, we could finish as high as fifth, or even a tie for fourth," he said. "That would salvage a lot of our pride and provide some positive momentum going into the Pac-10 tournament and for next season."

USC's last stand begins tonight in Pullman, Wash., where the Trojans will play Washington State (10-13, 5-9). USC then moves on to Seattle for a game Sunday with Washington (7-16, 3-11).

Raveling reasons that the last four games are pivotal because three of the teams--Washington State, California and Stanford--are ahead of USC in the conference standings.

The reality, though, is that USC has won only one game on the road this season, a double-overtime victory over California last December.

Trojan Notes

Tonight's game begins at 7:30. The Trojans beat the Cougars, 65-60, last month at the Sports Arena. "I think Washington State plays as close to its ability as any team in the league," USC Coach George Raveling said. "Next to Arizona, it is the most tempo conscious team in the league." . . . Forward Neil Evans had a career-high 17 points in the loss to the Trojans. Forward Brian Wright hit 8 of 9 three-point shots in a loss to Oregon last Sunday and is shooting 51.1% from that range.

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